Both Spike Lee and Bill Cosby are iconic Black creators, responsible for a bevy of characters that we’ve come to love throughout their careers. Spike Lee, one of the most social artists of his generation, has always moved the conversation forward with his art – and of course, his very brash NYC personality. However, he’s felt previously that one of his peers may have borrowed from Spike’s own production.
Spike’s latest Netflix movie featured the recently deceased Chadwick Boseman, a fact that leveled the cast and the rest of the world. Spike’s inclusion of the Black Panther actor was a moment on screen that many didn’t realize would have such an impact upon them later, due to his death.
It was Boseman’s silent struggle that actor and co-star Clarke Peters regrets not understanding in retrospect, now that Boseman’s gone. The two starred on Spike Lee’s Netflix original movie Da 5 Bloods, in which Boseman played a character that had perished in war and whose remains they were going back to find.
Sitting down with an interview for Good Morning Britain, the British actor shared his story and his regrets.
“I have to say with a little bit of regret that I probably wasn’t the most altruistic in that environment, but hindsight teaches us a lot of things,” Peters said. “What I’m addressing is, basically, my wife asked what Chadwick was like. I was really excited to work with him. I said, ‘I think he’s a little bit precious.’ And she said, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Because he’s surrounded by people who are fawning over him.’ He has a Chinese practitioner, who is massaging his back when he walks off set. He has a makeup lady massaging his feet. His girlfriend is there holding his hand,” Peters recalled. “And I’m thinking maybe the Black Panther thing went to his head.”
Ultimately, Peters realizes now that the extra attention wasn’t because of some perceived celebrity – it came from people that were helping him to get through filming, despite his cancer diagnosis.
While Peters may have felt Boseman was being pampered on Lee’s latest set, we can rest assured that Bill Cosby is not. Cosby still sits in jail on the charges that brought his career as an outspoken conservative with regards to Black culture to a crashing halt. It wasn’t Spike’s work on this movie that he felt the need to call out Cosby, however – it was on his classic film School Daze.
Previously, Lee had crossed swords with Cosby, alleging that he’d “jacked us” with regards to his show A Different World, which was a spin-off of The Cosby Show that was successful with its own run. But it turns out that it may just be Spike Lee being the brash Spike Lee, because the connection is something more simple – the two projects shared a casting director.
Casting director Robi Reed was chosen to cast the NBC A Different World, after she’d had success with Spike and his School Daze feature film. Reed was one of the few Black casting directors at the time and seemed adamant about keeping young Black actors working.
Eagle eyes will notice that quite a few cast members appear in both projects, thus giving fuel to Spike’s claims of Cosby “jacking” him – but it’s mostly because Cosby was smart enough to hire a Black woman to cast his very Black projects.
See Robi Reed’s explanation below.